Is it possible to defend against an attacker armed with a firearm?
This is a question that has become more relevant due to the threats of terrorism, workplace violence and the phenomena of active shooter events that have increased in the 21st century.
The answer is yes, depending on a number of factors which I will outline later in this post.
First off however, as a lifelong practitioner of both martial arts and firearms, I’ve often seen otherwise well-intentioned instructors teaching techniques that absolutely will not work in real-life situations. This has always disturbed me greatly. Because whether it’s just a matter of dealing with the common bully, or you are in the path of an armed active shooter – your health and well-being are on the line. Studying with someone who doesn’t really know what they’re talking about is liable to get you injured or killed.
Perhaps the worst example of this I have seen was on a YouTube video from a local kickboxing school which attempts to show defense against an AR-15 rifle. Sadly, not only was the demeanor of the participants improper when dealing with firearms (they were cracking jokes throughout the video), but the flawed technique they were teaching will indeed get someone killed.
The feature image on this blog post is a recreation of what they were teaching, showing the defender grabbing the muzzle of the rifle. Clearly those instructors have little actual experience with an AR-15, nor do they understand what takes place during an Active Shooter Event.
Case in point – barrel / muzzle temperature.
According to FBI statistics, rifles (including AR-15’s, AK-47’s and hunting varieties) were used 27% of the time during Active Shooter Events. With the standard magazines for both AR-15’s and AK-47’s holding 30 rounds, most attackers tend to fire a large number of rounds during their assaults.
Anyone who has fired an AR-15 knows that the barrel can get pretty hot rather quickly.
Well, after just one 30-round magazine the temperature can be anywhere from 165-177 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on the rate of fire. By the end of a second magazine however, the barrel temperature can easily exceed 240 degrees Fahrenheit. For reference, see the chart below conducted with the M4A1 (the carbine-sized relative of the AR-15).
It’s worth mentioning that the fore end of the AR-15 (which is held while shooting) is called the Hand Guard. It is essentially a heat shield between your hand and the barrel of the gun which you should avoid touching at all costs. Note also that at 131 degrees Fahrenheit you will experience a 2nd degree burn, resulting in blisters, severe pain, and scarring.
With barrel temperatures that exceed 240 degrees one can expect 3rd and 4th degree burns, which according to Johns Hopkins: “Third-degree burns destroy the epidermis and dermis. Third-degree burns may also damage the underlying bones, muscles, and tendons. When bones, muscles, or tendons are also burned, this may be referred to as a fourth-degree burn. The burn site appears white or charred. There is no feeling in the area since the nerve endings are destroyed.”
Therefore, when defending against an AR-15 or AK-47 style rifle, grabbing the exposed muzzle is unthinkable. Reflexively the human body will attempt to pull back from something that burns us. In the case of the hot muzzle, our hand may literally be seared and stuck to it, pulling the business end of that rifle directly back towards us. Arguments that one would be able to “tough it out” in that situation are mere bravado and totally ridiculous. Further, your hand will be so severely injured, it will not be of any use in a prolonged struggle with the attacker.
By contrast, at Texas Defensive Training, our gun disarms are reality-based and effective. Learning to defend against an actual armed attacker requires the following:
- A basic understanding of how different handguns and rifles function.
- A focus on the first rule of gun safety: the muzzle must always be pointed in a safe direction.
- Response patterns that are simple, redundant and practical.
- Use of the attacker’s movements, momentum, and intention.
- Taking the psychology of the attacker into account.
For more information on our courses of instruction, be sure to visit our website at www.TexasDefensiveTraining.com .